Edward Nelson 2 Replies Edward Nelson, professor emeritus of mathematics, passed away Sept. 10, 2014.
His papers are so economical and have such good ideas that I continually return to them during little daydreams. He once gave a colloqium at the University of Virginia that began with a discussion of why 2 raised to the power of 2 six times is effectively an infinite number. More than any other talk I have ever heard it stayed in my mind, and I am often trying to explain it to my friends. I am really happy to have known him.
I fondly remember a wonderful course I took on operator theory from Prof. Nelson during my senior year, and he eventually became my thesis advisor after Prof. Lieb left town to go to China.
I remember one of the math graduate students being completely floored when I picked up the phone in the math tea room on a Sunday afternoon and rang up prof. Nelson (who had given me his home phone number) with a tricky question about operator inequalities related to my thesis. He said “let me think a bit”. About two minutes later he called with the solution.
He was extremely friendly, and he invited me to come to see him several times after graduation so he could explain some of the applications of Gaussian integral kernels in mathematical physics to me.